For motivation tonight, the Philadelphia Flyers should only need to look down the ice against the New York Islanders. The Isles will be playing their second game in as many nights, and after starting Evgeni Nabokov against the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, New York is looking to Kevin Poulin against the Flyers.
That’s the same Kevin Poulin that has played six games total over the last two seasons. The implication here is a simple one, if you read between the lines a little bit: The Islanders consider the Penguins a more dangerous team than the Flyers. And why wouldn’t they?
Sidney Crosby has more points than Philadelphia’s top-five scorers combined. That’s both a testament to how outstanding Crosby has been, but also how awful the Flyers offense has been. Looking at the names on the roster for the Flyers though, it’s tough to see them not victimizing a backup somewhere down the line.
This will be third time in recent memory that the opposing team has seen fit to give their usual No. 1 the start. Rotation is obviously part of the game, but coaches don’t just randomly try to pick and choose starts. They ice the backups against teams that are perceived as weaker.
The Flyers need to be aware of that. That they’re considered a weaker team, and that New York believes it can win with Poulin in net. In seasons gone by this could be a fireworks display for Philadelphia. Back when Claude Giroux was one of the best players in the world and the top-six was rolling.
Philadelphia isn’t rolling right now, yet they’re coming off of a big win over a limping New York Rangers team. The Flyers now get to go out and seize an opportunity to win back-to-back games for the first time this year against a tired Islanders team. We’ll learn a lot about the Flyers tonight, and we’ll see just how serious they are about making the postseason.